Redwood Coast Connect, focuses on making ubiquitous broadband available to all rural communities in the region through the aggregation of users, engagement of providers, simplification of county and municipal policies and tapping the ingenuity of entrepreneurs in the region.
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Redwood Coast Connect is a regional initiative created to promote the development of ubiquitous broadband to all communities in the region. In 2000 RCRA leaders identified the availability of quality broadband as being the most significant factor in a successful transition from a resource extraction to the new knowledge based economy.
Why is this important?
Increased access to broadband means increased business development, a wider diversity of jobs available to residents and better access to health and educational opportunities. Videoconferencing, telecommuting, online classes and remote energy monitoring all contribute to a greener profile for rural residents, but require improved broadband accessibility.
What are we doing about it?
RCRA is committed to working in concert with our partners to determine need, improve existing infrastructure and overcome barriers to realizing this goal. In 2008, RCRA negotiated a grant from the California Emerging Technology Foundation (CETF) to complete a regional broadband supply/demand analysis for the region. Research and convening was done by RCRA member California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University and in 2009 they released the the first regional analysis in the state. REDWOOD COAST CONNECT was released and presented to and peer reviewed by the CETF board. It served as the template for other regional studies funded by CETF. In addition to the regional analysis, Redwood Coast Connect verified the need for significant public sector investment needed to deploy broadband across the state.
Results So Far
Actually deploying broadband into all communities in the region is not a simple or quick process and takes lots of money and many partners working in concert. From the beginning the redwood coast was plagued with infrastructure deficiencies. To understand the complexity one must understand the infrastructure of broadband that must be in place in order to get to the internet on a home or business computer. The largest line, called the trunk line runs up CA highway 5 which is 3 mountain passes away from the redwood coast. In order to access that trunk there need to be “middle mile” fiber lines running from central CA along Highway 5 out to the coast, more than one is preferable as then signals have multiple routes in case one goes down. Once there are lateral running “middle mile”connections the focus is on “last mile” which are the actual connections to homes, schools, and businesses. Redwood Coast Connect identified critical gaps in infrastructure address the challenges to deploying last mile in an environment where the only existing middle mile was owned by AT&T, which effectively controlled whether or not broadband would be available, as well as the quality and cost where it was available.
Redwood Coast Broadband Consortim, led by CCRP, has a 3 year workplanto support deployment and adoption of broadband in the region. There have been victories along the way, two of which are captured in Tale of Two Broadband Victories. In addition there have been the following significant successes:
- Milestones to 2012
- New middle mile across Highway 36
- Feasibility for a middle mile route up highway 96 was completed
- Karuks begin installing broadband in homes along the Klamath River
- The community of Orick finally gets broadband
- Humboldt County general plan amended to include telecommunications policy
Primary Partners and Funding
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